Gates Public Service Law Scholars
Gates PSL Scholars have the opportunity to attend the UW School of Law and then
pursue public interest law without the crushing burden of educational debt. The
scholarship program covers all cost of tuition, books, room and board and incidental
expenses during law school. In exchange, students dedicate five years to public
service. Each of the Gates PSL Scholarship recipients say the chance to earn a law
degree from one of the finest schools in the nation free of any debt is a dream
come true. The financial assistance provided by the scholarship allows them to move
directly into jobs doing what they love – providing public service to those
Francisco Carriedo – 2014 Scholar
Francisco Carriedo’s experience living in a community of undocumented Mexican immigrants in the Yakima Valley during his childhood molded both his work ethic and his ambition and inspired him to pursue a career as an attorney. “Both of my parents were illegal immigrants in this country,” said Carriedo. “Our lives were dictated by their citizenship status. I was raised among undocumented immigrants and witnessed the impact that a lack of legal citizenship can have on Latino families.”
As an undergraduate, Carriedo spent time interning with the Yakima Prosecuting Attorney’s office and witnessed firsthand the efforts made by attorneys to help improve the lives of people in the community. This experience also demonstrated to him the need for and importance of proper legal representation. “The Yakima Valley is a predominantly Hispanic community and a majority of the people who find themselves in need of legal representation cannot afford it,” said Carriedo. “I want to be able to properly advocate for those communities that are in need of a voice.”
It was this desire that prompted Carriedo to apply to the Gates Public Service Law Program. He plans to use the degree he earns from UW Law to help the same communities that he grew in. “I come from a farm working family, so I really want to work with farm workers. I also want to get involved with immigration law and help keep families together, regardless of their immigration status,” he said. “Public service means being able to take full advantage of your opportunities and use them to help create opportunities for those who are in need… to be able to put the best interests of others ahead of your own and make a sincere effort to assist where assistance is needed.” Though his primary goal is to help his community of origin, he also realizes there are other marginalized communities in need of assistance. “I’m excited to be part of a group of people with diverse interests, but similar passions,” Carriedo concluded.
Bruna Estrada – 2014 Scholar
Bruna Estrada’s experience serving in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, as a teacher and later as a Director of College Counseling, provided her insight into the dire and broad legal representation needs in low-income communities. Estrada believes that higher educational attainment is a key predictor of a community’s economic mobility and growth.
While working in an internship in Washington, DC, she heightened her awareness of social inequalities plaguing her community and was inspired to pursue a career in public service. She noticed that less than 15% of her community held a bachelor’s degree and is one of the poorest regions in the nation. “My economic mobility increased by obtaining higher education and I couldn’t stop thinking of the 90% of my high school classmates who simply didn’t have the same opportunity I did to go to college,” said Estrada. “I began to understand how schools shape communities and felt a deep sense of social responsibility and commitment to advocate for higher education.”
In 2008, Estrada joined Teach for America and began teaching in the region she grew up in. She has spent the last five years working to send first generation low-income students to college, engage stakeholders and improve teaching quality. “Some students in the school community I taught in coped with obstacles that made it more difficult for them to make it to college, such as teen parenthood, drug rehabilitation, mental health, immigration status, homelessness, abuse and inadequate healthcare,” she said. “I even noticed how some parents lacked understanding about their basic employment rights, and their lack of access to legal representation affected my students’ performance.”
Estrada’s work experience in achieving ambitious results, such as ensuring 100% of her senior students were accepted to college despite the community’s social challenges, has helped her understand that public service work does not happen in isolation. “Engaging different segments of the community helps drive positive lasting change,” she Estrada. “This is why I’d like to address the legal issues that could facilitate the work of educators in underserved communities.”
Martina Kartman – 2014 Scholar
Working as a legal assistant with Columbia Legal Services Institutions Project solidified Martina Kartman’s passion and dedication to the field of public service law. Alongside attorneys seeking to protect the rights of people in Washington State prisons, Kartman had the opportunity to help coordinate a campaign to protect people with criminal records from discrimination.
“The collateral consequences of a prison sentence persist long after a person has been released,” said Kartman. “Your record will always follow you: when you apply for a job, seek an apartment, buy a car or enroll in college. Many community members are still hobbled by the invisible ball and chain of collateral consequences.” Their campaign was successful, and led to the adoption of the Jobs Assistance Ordinance, which will enable the 17,000 men and women released yearly in Washington State to have a fair chance at finding a job.
It was this work that attracted Kartman to a career as an attorney and prompted her to apply to the Gates PSL Program. “Through that work, I had the profound privilege of serving individuals who have seen the worst of the penal system,” she said. “I would like to use my unique experiences to promote community engagement in the development of public policy and legal aid that is responsive to local needs. I want to zealously fight lengthy sentencing, defend the civil rights of people incarcerated and address barriers to their successful reentry.”
Danielle Meyering – 2014 Scholar
Danielle Meyering has always been a self-described “fixer,” compelled to do whatever she can to help others, with a particular focus on aiding, educating and advocating for underserved populations. “I believe in paying it forward,” said Meyering, whose recent focus has been on providing clinical care to those with complex needs and limited access to healthcare.
In her capacity as a Registered Nurse, Meyering works at the Seattle VA Medical Center, King County Jail Health and serves as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve Army Nurse Corps. Her involvement working with female veterans has fueled her inspiration to pursue a new career in health law. “I have observed the difficulties and struggles of underserved and poorly represented populations, as well as those of lower socio-economic status,” said Meyering. “There are many complexities in providing quality care to female veterans and healthcare policies and laws are contributing factors that impede exceptional care.”
Meyering’s definition of public service means not only helping people to survive, but empowering them to thrive. Her background in healthcare, combined with a legal education, will allow her to uniquely contribute to efforts to improve and reform the healthcare system.
“I find fulfillment in using my skills and talents for the greater good,” said Meyering. “In addition to providing hope, aid and advocacy, I want to be a part of the much needed reform of health care and public policies.”
Camille McDorman – 2014 Scholar
Camille McDorman’s work with resettled refugees in the Tukwila area during her time as an undergraduate at the University of Washington expanded her interest in human rights work that was initially piqued by members of her family. That interest only grew as she spent the five years after graduation focusing on issues of international justice in both the United States and in the Asia Pacific.
“After working with Burmese refugees in a camp on the Thai-Burma border, civil-society activists from across South-east Asia, international lawyers addressing cases of human trafficking and sexual abuse and now with Internally Displaced Persons in Myanmar who face daily denial of their basic human rights based on their religious preference I am grounded in the reality that human rights work is neither glamorous nor simple; yet, with the right technical skills, resources and resilience, your work can produce meaningful change,” said McDorman.
After completing her law degree, McDorman plans to work with organizations that are addressing human rights issues by improving transparency, efficiency and capacity of local justice systems. She is seeking to deepen and widen her skills, networks and experience in order to make a larger impact on the issues she has spent the last several years working on.
“For me, public service is the persistent effort towards justice in the face of inequality, corruption and discrimination,” said McDorman. “My personal and professional pursuit of public service has taken me from after-school programs in Tukwila, Washington to university networking meetings in Hong Kong to humanitarian advocacy in Sittwe, Myanmar. I am looking forward to linking with a network of people who are dedicated to public service and to using law as a mechanism for progress.”